Goals at the end of each half from Jon Dahl Tomasson and Jesper Grønkjær earned Denmark three points in Braga and put the Scandinavian side in a strong position in UEFA EURO 2004 Group C.
Tomasson opened the scoring a minute before half-time with a simple finish from close range and Grønkjær completed the success two minutes into added time, side-footing into the corner to seal the points. The final score might have been more emphatic, but Ebbe Sand's thunderous last-gasp strike rebounded off the bar. Bulgaria, who opened with Monday's 5-0 loss to Sweden, bow out of the tournament.
As expected Thomas Gravesen returned to the centre of Denmark's midfield after his one-match ban, with Christian Poulsen dropping to the bench. After a good performance against Italy on Monday, Dennis Rommedahl kept his place in the starting lineup with Grønkjær among the substitutes, having joined the squad on Tuesday following a family bereavement. Bulgaria also kept their changes to a minimum with centre-back Ilian Stoyanov coming in for Predrag Pažin, who failed to recover from an ankle injury.
The first real chance fell to Denmark after three minutes when Martin Jørgensen created an opening for Sand in front of goal. The striker got his shot on target, but Kirilov was able to scramble back to clear off the line. Moments later, Rommedahl, who posed all manner of problems for Bulgaria in the early stages, swung in a dangerous cross and Ivaylo Petkov had to be alert to head to safety with Jørgensen lurking on his shoulder.
Denmark were forced to make a change after 23 minutes when Rommedahl pulled up and had to be replaced by Grønkjær. The winger's first meaningful action almost resulted in a goal when the Bulgaria defence failed to clear Jørgensen's cross and the ball broke for the substitute; Bulgaria goalkeeper Zdravko Zdravkov got down smartly to smother at his near post.
Denmark should have broken the deadlock six minutes before half-time when Gravesen sent Tomasson through, but he was forced wide as he tried to round Zdravkov and shot into the side-netting. At the other end, Mariyan Hristov headed wide after Thomas Sørensen had dropped a high cross, before Martin Petrov wasted a good opportunity after playing a one-two with Dimitar Berbatov on the edge of the area.
Denmark immediately broke upfield and scored. Gravesen opened up the Bulgarian defence again with another perceptive through ball and Jørgensen's unselfish pass was rolled into an empty net by Tomasson.
Plamen Markov's side needed to make an early impression in the second half if they were going to salvage anything from the fixture, but instead they found themselves under more Danish pressure as Gravesen dictated the tempo, providing a steady supply of passes for his forwards. Bulgaria did create an opening on 55 minutes when Zoran Janković picked up a loose ball 25 metres out, but his powerful shot flew just past Sørensen's left post.
Bulgaria tried to threaten as the match moved into the last ten minutes, but their hopes were effectively ended by the dismissal of captain Stiliyan Petrov for a second yellow card seven minutes from time, and Denmark were able to confirm a comfortable win thanks to Grønkjær's late strike.
Petrov and Rosen Kirilov, who earned his second booking of the finals early on, will be suspended when Bulgaria face Italy in four days. Denmark meet Sweden knowing a high scoring draw would be enough.